Beautiful love letter to the Marquise de Castries, who had rejected him two years earlier.
"Your letter makes me very sad. Yes, you don't know me very well, if you believe that there are successes that can either intoxicate me or make me forget what I love. For me, success is nothing, because success comes from the world; happiness is everything and comes from one person only, so it is more than the world. It is not by making Sister Marie [Sister Marie des Anges, an abandoned project partly taken up again in the Memoirs of Two Young Brides] that I can avoid thinking of the one you speak of. Although she has withdrawn from me with pleasure, I have always been close to her. You say that I believe only in myself. Do not make me either foolish or light-hearted; these are two kinds of men into whom I will never turn. If you knew me, if you had wanted to know me, you would have questioned the depth of a heart that keeps everything, of a heart that forgets only the evil, of a friend faithful to the point of stupidity, devoted to the point of considering as nothing the offering of his life; and of a thought great enough to believe that the most difficult of human tasks is to remain during a whole life, each day more loving than one was the day before. It would be very difficult for you to reproach me with anything other than distractions from great work; as for what those seven or eight hundred fools of whom the world is composed say, I believe you to be too great and too elevated to think that you would adopt the nonsense with which they imagine they can corrode a character or obscure a destiny. No, don't prefer me to your cornice, although it is your creature, it is not worth me who has done so much to replace it. You are mistaken, I am on the threshold of youth, age is driving me out of this beautiful house where everything shines, where pleasure explains everything; you are the last figure I will see there, and you believe that one renounces the last image of happiness; you have made me believe in it...
and you have slowly untied, one by one, the innumerable ties that I was pleased to take on, but your privilege is to retie everything with a word. Do you believe that I am small enough to lead the life of a fatty! If I didn't know you I would have taken the word success for an epigram. When I want to lead a dissipated life I will tell you and I will try to do everything in a big way, but so many things came to me when I read your letter and I have so little time that I have no other resource than to go and see you.
I will find a moment this evening. I will bring you Mme de B...t [probably the manuscript of La Femme abandonnée, whose heroine is Mme de Beauséant], because I don't know when I will leave, the Revue did not send me any proofs yesterday, so see you soon."
Provenance: Baron Roger d'Aldenburg (natural son of Mme de Castries and Victor de Metternich, son of the Austrian chancellor; Metternich sale, Vienna, November 19, 1907, no. 1836)
Correspondence (Pléiade), t. I, n° 35-1411.